Do I need a special breastfeeding diet?

No, you don't need to eat any special foods while you're breastfeeding - just try to include a well-balanced, healthy variety of foods in your diet.

What should I eat when breastfeeding?

Fruit and vegetables

Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced can be part of your daily allowance – try to avoid anything with added salt or sugar.

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Starchy foods (carbohydrates)

These types of food are an important source of energy, certain vitamins and fibre. This includes bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta and noodles. Opt for the wholemeal, instead of refined starchy (white) versions, when possible.

Protein

Foods in this group include: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts.

Aim to have two portions of fish each week, make one of them an oily fish like salmon, sardines or mackerel. Shark, swordfish and marlin can contain more mercury than other types of fish – avoid eating more than one portion per week.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe to eat raw or partially cooked.

Dairy products

Dairy includes milk, cheese and yoghurt. They contain calcium and other essential nutrients. When possible, choose low-fat varieties, such as semi-skimmed, one per cent fat or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and reduced-fat hard cheese. If you prefer dairy-free alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, opt for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.

Quick healthy snack ideas

There may be times when you're so busy breastfeeding, and possibly looking after other children, that you forget to feed yourself. If possible, plan your meals and have snacks at the ready. When you're breastfeeding, it's especially important to keep up your energy levels.

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Here are some tips and ideas for easy, healthy and nutritious snacks and meals.

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables make nutritious and healthy snacks. Try to have a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, and fresh veggies like carrots, cucumber, sugar snap peas and celery sticks in the fridge. Hummus makes a nice dip to go with fresh, crunchy vegetables.

Dried fruit

Dried apricots, figs, mango and prunes are great if you need a quick, sweet snack.

Hard boiled eggs

You can hard boil a few eggs and keep them in the fridge for an easy-to-grab, filling and nutritious snack.

Yoghurt

Natural, unsweetened yoghurt provides calcium and protein as well as good bacteria.

Cereal

A cup or a bowl of breakfast cereal or muesli (preferably unsweetened, wholegrain cereal) is good for a quick energy boost.

Healthy lunches

Homemade sandwiches (ideally with some salad), vegetable or bean soup, beans on toast, and jacket potatoes are all pretty quick and easy to make – as well as filling, nutritious and will give you a good energy boost.

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Your diet and breastfeeding

If you think something you’re eating is affecting your baby, you can always talk to your GP or health visitor, or contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.

More info:

5 A Day: what counts? – find out what counts as a portion

The healthy way to eat eggs – what to look out for when buying your eggs

The Eatwell Guide – what and how much to eat from each food group

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